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NFL Fantasy Crime League Update: Baltimore RB Ray Rice Indicted

Atlantic City casino. Video footage of an NFL running back dragging an unconscious girlfriend from an elevator. Rumors of a violent scene between the two.

Indeed, in this 2014 offseason's NFL Fantasy Crime League, the first crime of the season, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice's assault on his fiancee, has been the most salacious crime of the season, and I say that with all due respect to Jim Irsay being caught with a small pharmacy in his car a week or so ago.

What started as a simple assault charge that would fade away with time and some couple's counseling has turned into more. A lot more.

ON Thursday, Rice was indicted by a grand jury on third-degree aggravated assault for allegedly striking and knocking his fiancée, Janay Palmer, unconscious last month.

As mentioned earlier, Rice was arrested and charged with simple assault-domestic violence on Feb.15, after a physical altercation with Palmer at the Revel Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. For the record, the spat appeared to cut both ways, as Palmer also was charged with simple assault.

Third-degree crimes are pretty punitive in New Jersey, carrying a potential prison sentence of at least three years and up to five years, and a fine that could be up to $15,000.

The smoking gun in all of this is a video obtained and posted online by TMZ showing a frustrated Rice lifting Palmer by her arms out of an elevator and laying her on the floor. Rice's attorney, Michael Diamondstein, has said the footage is authentic but doesn't tell the whole story.

"We deny that he committed an aggravated assault. We don't think the law would support that [he did]. And we just ask the public to reserve judgment until all of the facts are out," said Diamondstein.

The Ravens released a statement Thursday that read: "This is part of the due process for Ray. We know there is more to Ray Rice than this one incident."

This is a bit of a slippery slope for the Ravens, standing behind their guy despite gaming video footage. Also worth noting, we are in the midst of an offseason where three Ravens players were arrested in a 22-day period. Backup wide receiver Deonte Thompson was arrested for possession of marijuana on Feb. 21, and reserve offensive lineman Jah Reid was arrested on two misdemeanor charges of battery on March 9.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has said Rice has a future with the team despite his arrest (and despite the fact he is coming off his worst season, rushing for 660 yards and averaging a career low 3.1 yards per carry). It's worth noting that releasing Rice for any reason, performance or conduct, would come with a $14 million salary cap hit in 2014 for the Ravens.

For what it's worth, the couple publicly is saying it's all puppy dogs and ice cream again. "We vehemently deny that Mr. Rice committed an aggravated assault," Diamondstein said. "Both Mr. Rice and Miss Palmer are together, they are happy and they're in counseling."

To be continued....

FANTASY CRIME LEAGUE STANDINGS COLTS .. 3 * 3/16/14: Colts owner Jim Irsay is arrested for DUI and possession of a controlled substance (felony)

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RAVENS .. 3 * 2/14/14: Ravens RB Ray Rice is charged with third degree assault. * 2/21/14: Ravens WR Deonte Thompson is arrested for suspicion of possession of marijuana. * 3/9/14: Raves OL Jah Reid is arrested on two counts of battery.

FALCONS .. 1 * 2/18/14: Falcons WR Roddy White is arrested for failing to appear in court.

TITANS .. 1 * 3/20/14: Titans DE Adewale Ojomo is arrested for solicitation of prostitution.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.

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